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“It’s okay. Go back to sleep.”

These are not the words any sane adult wants to hear when woken from  a sound and well-deserved sleep. It doesn’t help at all if they are uttered by your best friends in the middle of the night.

I sat up, trying to remember where I was and what (obviously involving multiple felonies and a spot of puppy-kicking) led to this nightmare.  Oh, right. India. Tamil Nadu.

Beach at Mahabalipuram (photos © Janine Smith and Jayalakshmy Ayyer 2023)

Yesterday we had checked into a beachfront hotel where a smiling woman greeted me with a shell necklace and invitation to high tea on the beach.

I was on vacation with my two best friends. On purpose. What was I thinking?

Hotel’s infinity pool leading to Bay of Bengal.


From the darkness outside came a long, ululating song. Beautiful torture that went on and on. “What did I ever do to you?” I moaned.

“It’s so nice outside,” enthused my friends. “See how the lights reflect off the pool?”

They patted and pushed me out the door to a set of chairs. I sat down and immediately leaped to my feet.

“It’s all wet! My backside is soaked.”

“It’s okay.” Jaya was faintly disgusted with my pathetic desire to waste perfectly good vacation time on sleep. “It’s only warm water.”

“I have coffee,” enticed Janine. “And I’ll peel you an orange.”

I sipped the coffee (Starbucks instant. Yum.) and reluctantly ate the proffered orange slices.

“Delicious,” I agreed grumpily. “Can I go back to bed now?”

“We’re going to the beach to wait for sunrise,” they enthused. “Come with us?”

“Who are you?” I moaned. “What did I ever do to you to deserve this?”

They went happily off to commune with nature, hopefully a decent distance from here.

In the blissful silence, I got back in bed and fired up my laptop to write this and finish my vacation in this best of all possible worlds.

Lovely bunch of coconuts! Over the years, my friends have taken photos of me drinking tender coconut water. So good!